After first meeting, crescendo of boos for Kobach voting panel

The drumbeat of criticism continues after the White House voting commission held its first meeting Wednesday.

“Its purpose is not to restore integrity to elections but to undermine the public’s confidence enough to push through policies and practices that make registration and voting harder, if not impossible, for certain groups of people who tend to vote Democratic,” The New York Times editorialized Sunday.

The Washington Post‘s E.J. Dionne called the commission “the furthest thing imaginable from a dispassionate investigation into voting procedures.”

And the conservative Jennifer Rubin, also at the Post, went further, calling the commission’s leader, Kris Kobach (pictured), a “useful edit for Putin.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, the number 2 Democrat in the Senate, tweeted Rubin’s column and wrote that the commission “wants to suppress the right to vote and discredit our Democratic process. Exactly what Vladimir Putin wants.”

Top congressional Democrats called last week for Kobach to be removed from the commission, citing his false claims about voter fraud and accusing him of using his work on the panel to promote his run for Kansas governor.

At its meeting Wednesday, the commission appeared to reject the idea of investigating Russian interference in the election, saying it would instead stay abreast of other government investigations into the issue.

A report by The Economist is among several efforts to examine the shoddy methodology behind the commission’s claims about illegal voting. The magazine notes that to make the case that non-citizen voting is a significant problem, Kobach and his allies have used a 2014 paper by scholars at Old Dominion University that relied on just 339 respondents. The authors of the paper themselves have acknowledged that those respondents may not be representative of the broader non-citizen population.

That flawed Old Dominion study appears to be the basis for President Donald Trump’s false claim that 3-5 million people may have voted illegally in the last election, costing him a popular vote victory.

Asked on Friday about that claim, the White House’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, said there is “probably some level of truth” to it, though he said he hadn’t looked into it.

In better news for the commission, a federal judge has rejected two separate lawsuits against it. The first, filed by the ACLU, had sought to immediately require more transparency from the panel. The second, brought by a privacy group, aimed to block the commission’s request that states hand over sensitive voter data. That request had been on hold pending the judge’s ruling.

Still, several other lawsuits, including one that would permanently bar the commission from collecting the state vote data, remain pending.

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